from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – MOZAMBIQUE has detected its first case of the wild polio-virus in 30 years.
Health authorities confirmed that a child in the country’s north-eastern Tete province had contracted the disease.
This marks the second imported case of wild polio-virus in Southern Africa this year, following an outbreak in Malawi in mid-February.
Genomic sequencing analysis indicates that the newly confirmed case is linked to a strain that had been circulating in Pakistan in 2019.
This is similar to the case reported in Malawi.
“The detection of another case of wild polio virus in Africa is greatly concerning, even if it’s unsurprising given the recent outbreak in Malawi. However, it shows how dangerous this virus is and how quickly it can spread,” said Dr Matshidiso Moeti, World Health Organization director for Africa.
“We are supporting southern African governments to step up the polio fight including carrying out large-scale, effective vaccination campaigns to halt the virus and protect children from its damaging impact,” Dr. Moeti said.
The case in Mozambique and the earlier one in Malawi nonetheless do not affect Africa’s wild polio-virus-free certification because the virus strain is not indigenous.
Africa was declared free of indigenous wild polio in August 2020 after eliminating all forms of wild polio from the region.
Mozambique recently carried out two mass vaccination campaigns – in response to the Malawi outbreak – in which 4.2 million children were vaccinated against the disease.
Efforts are underway to strengthen disease surveillance in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The countries will continue with mass vaccinations, with plans to reach 23 million children aged five years and below in the coming weeks.
Globally, wild polio-virus is endemic only in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Polio is highly infectious.
There is no cure but it can only be prevented by immunisation.
– CAJ News